Great players are always trying to add something new to their game.
Penn State senior guard Maggie Lucas, already a terrific shooter during her first three years at Penn State, is now even harder to guard.
Lucas and her Penn State teammates come to Lincoln on Monday for a key Big Ten game with Nebraska. The ninth-ranked Nittany Lions (21-5, 12-2) and the No. 17 Huskers (20-5, 10-3) meet with the regular-season league title at stake, as well as positioning for seeding in the Big Ten and the NCAA tournaments.
Nebraska coach Connie Yori knows that the game may come down to how well the Huskers defend Lucas.
“Everybody tries not to leave her,” Yori said. “Her game has taken off to a different level. She has more ability to put the ball on the floor and they run ball screens for her. She’s still a phenomenal shooter and because she can do more than one thing, that sets up her shooting. She’s really improved her game.”
Lucas is averaging 22.4 points per game during conference play, second only to Minnesota’s Rachel Banham at 22.7. She has led the Nittany Lions in scoring the past eight contests while scoring 24.5 points per game. Fouling Lucas is a bad idea: She’s currently shooting 96 percent from the foul line (155-of-161).
Lucas made eight three-pointers and scored 34 points in last year’s 82-67 win over Nebraska on March 3, the last women’s game played at the Devaney Sports Center.
But Lucas is hardly the only reason Penn State has won 10 of its past 11 games and is in first place.
“First of all, they have really good size,” Yori said. “It’s hard to score on them, and the size gives them weapons inside on offense. Then they get really good guard play, and that makes them a challenge to guard. They play really hard and they play with a lot of emotion and intensity.”
Nebraska comes into the game on a seven-game win streak with four of those wins on the road. The Huskers are 14-2 this season at home, its first in Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“We’re going to have to play great on both ends,” Yori said. “We have to make few errors because they will capitalize on all errors we make. I always say winning is about doing more things right that your opponent. We’re going to have to do a lot more things right then them. It’s definitely a tough matchup for us.”
The Huskers have won their past three Big Ten home games by an average of 22.7 points. Jordan Hooper, the only senior on the team, leads Nebraska at 20.2 points per game and scored 24 in Thursday’s 67-59 victory at Ohio State.